Philippians 1:19-25 expresses Paul’s sense of celebration, identifies his source of strength, and his reason for confidence.
Philippians 1:19-25 surpasses a positive attitude to one of celebration
But let all who take refuge in you rejoice; let them ever sing for joy. (ESV, Psalm 5:11)
Throughout the Bible, Christ-followers are encouraged to rejoice and express joy. Why? Because a relationship with Jesus Christ releases you from the bondage of sin and grants you eternal life with him. And that should cause an ongoing celebration.
V. 19 I will rejoice…
So Paul ends v.18 and begins v.19 by repeating the same word…rejoice. Just in case you missed it the first time. Rejoice is the Greek word chairo and the Greek word chara is translated joy.
James, the half brother of Jesus, goes more extreme with the idea. He instructs Christ-followers to express joy even in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (ESV, James 1:2)
REFLECT AND RECORD
Consider a difficult circumstance you’ve experienced. How would you rate your level of joy as you navigated it? What factors contributed to how it went? What might you have done differently?
Philippians 1:19-25 identifies Paul’s source of strength
V. 19 for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance
Christianity doesn’t pretend you can summon a power from within. Instead, it recognizes that we are weak. Vulnerable. And gain our strength and support from a community of believers and the power of God.
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (ESV, 2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
Paul readily and unashamedly identifies his source of strength: the prayers of the Philippian church and the presence of the Holy Spirit. We don’t understand how prayer works. But know that it does. And Paul regularly asked for prayer support in his ministry. Jesus too, regularly prayed and encouraged the same from his followers. And he told several parables about the impact prayer has in the life of believers.
Furthermore, Christ-followers lean on the Holy Spirit for help. In fact the Holy Spirit is often identified by the Greek word paráklētos, which means advocate and helper.
REFLECT AND RECORD
Take a moment to reflect on and describe times when you sensed the prayer of others. What about when you felt weak and the power of the Holy Spirit sustained you. What did you learn about Christian community and the power of God from those times?
Philippians 1:19-25 explains the reason for Paul’s confidence
V. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.
Paul is unsure of his future. The Greek word for deliverance in V.19 is soteria, which means salvation. Does Paul mean salvation from prison and physical freedom or spiritual salvation if he’s martyred?
It’s not clear. But he’s good either way.
V. 22 If I am to live in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me…
If he lives, Paul will faithfully serve God. He doesn’t plan to retire, kick back, and enjoy the good life. That comes in heaven.
V. 25 I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith,
Rather, Paul feels responsible as a spiritual mentor to the Philippian church. He wants to support and encourage them on a path of discipleship that is characterized by joy. And demonstrate a Christian life that serves as an example. One still worth following today.
In what ways do you encourage others in the Christian faith? Would you describe your witness as someone who cowers or stands courageously for Christ? How well do you exemplify what discipleship looks like?